Presented on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at the Quarry Farm Barn. Susan Harris has been pursuing Mark Twain around the world, tracking themes that he starts in is last travelogue, Following the Equator. Twain's observations about animal extinction in Australasia led her to first to wildlife refuges and then into the library - where she began exploring the many philosophies of wildlife conservation today. "Searching for the Ornithorhynchus" (the Latin word for platypus, a particular favorite of Twain's) starts with Twain in the Adelaide zoo, marches us through New Zealand and South Africa, and ends with the questions about animal conservation - by whom, and for whose benefit.
Susan K. Harris has recently retired from a position as the Joyce and Elizabeth Hall Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Kansas. During her academic career she specialized in both Mark Twain Studies and in Studies of American Woman Writers. Her writings include the monograph Mark Twain's Escape from Time: A Study of Patterns and Images (1982), 19th-Century American Women's Novels: Interpretive Strategies (1990), The Courtship of Olivia Langdon and Mark Twain (1996), The Cultural Work of the late 19th-Century Hostess: Annie Adams Fields and Mary Gladstone Drew (2002), and God's Arbiters: Americans and the Philippines, 1898-1902 (2011). She has edited three 19-century American women's novels for Penguin/Putnam Press, as well as the Library of America's volume of Twain's historical romances and a Houghton Mifflin pedagogical edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.